In the United States, three out of four people wear glasses or contacts. There’s at least one optometrist in every city, sometimes even hundreds! While we have so many glasses-wearers in the United States, there are just as many people in other countries who have no access to glasses. Dr. Travis Zigler’s goal is to change that. He is the founder of Eye Love, whose mission is to heal 1,000,000 dry eye sufferers naturally by 2030. Dr. Travis and his wife, Dr. Jenna Zigler, use the profits from Eye Love to fund free clinics in Jamaica, Latin America, and the US through their charity, the Eye Love Cares Foundation.
Click below to listen while Dr. Zigler teaches us the challenges with eyesight and how to have great eyes for a lifetime, or read on!
What led you into optometry?
After graduating from high school in 2003, I knew I wanted to go into some form of medical school. While in my first year of undergrad at Ohio State, my mother suggested I work for my uncle. He was an optometrist right next to campus. I started working for him and loving the lifestyle! As a result, I went to optometry school. Optometry is amazing because we get to give people the gift of sight.
My wife is also an optometrist, so after running our own practices for a couple of years we started Eye Love. Our mission slowly developed into wanting to heal one million dry eye sufferers naturally by the year 2030. Along the way, we’ve started using our profits to help those in other countries who don’t have access to glasses.
You claim that 80% of eye problems in the world are avoidable. Talk about that.
There are close to one billion people in the world who can’t see due to just a lack of glasses. These people either can’t afford glasses, or they can’t obtain them because they don’t have access to an eye doctor. We started the Eye Love Cares Foundation after discovering this. Our foundation goes to these places where it’s difficult to get glasses and host pop-up clinics. We only stay for a week or so and try to see as many people as possible. Usually, we see anywhere from 1,500 to 3,000 people and help them get glasses or even surgery. We don’t want to put anyone out of business though, so our ultimate goal is to build schools where people can learn how to fit glasses and then go back and help their community.
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Talk about contact lenses and some of the problems with them.
Disposable contact lenses are the healthiest and most comfortable way to wear contact lenses. Contacts cause an increase in bacteria on your eyes and eyelids which can cause eye problems and even blindness if you aren’t careful. Not changing the solution in your contact case is like filling your sink with water and using that water to wash your face for the whole week. It’s just putting all of that bacteria from each day back into your eyes!
Always change your contact lens solution every day, or if possible, switch to a daily disposable lens. With disposable lenses, you get a fresh lens every day so you really cut down on bacteria. If you do wear contact lenses you also need to have a great eyelid hygiene regimen to reduce that bacteria build up on your eyes.
How do omegas help with eyesight?
Our eyelids have meibomian glands which are responsible for secreting an oil layer onto your eye. This oil layer keeps your tears intact, and your vision clearer. So if your oil layer is dysfunctional, your tears are going to break up and your vision is going to be blurrier. The better source of oil that you put into your body, the better source of oil that your body is going to produce. As a first step, I always recommend changing your diet to include more healthy oils.
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What diet changes can promote good eyesight?
In the American diet, we have a lot of processed and factory-farmed omega-6s. Avocados and avocado oil are going to get you healthy omega-6s. Instead of cooking with vegetable oil, cook with organic olive oil or avocado oil. Avocado oil has a higher smoking point, so it’s better to cook at high temperatures so it doesn’t get damaged. Organic olive oil is one of the best things you can add to your diet because of the high-quality omega-3s.
A very plant-heavy diet with lots of leafy green and colorful vegetables is going to best provide you with phytochemicals, which can help clean up the area of your eye that deals with central vision. If you eat meat, eating caught-fish like salmon and anchovies will be the most beneficial. Since the fish is smaller, you will absorb more omegas and less Mercury.
It’s important to cut down on inflammatory foods as well, most of which are consumed in the morning. Breakfast foods like pancakes, waffles, cereal, and bagels all have a lot of sugar which causes inflammation. One of the first changes we implement is switching out your first meal of the day with a green smoothie. So a green smoothie, a good probiotic, and a multivitamin are the three supplements we recommend.
What is dry eye disease?
Dry eye is basically when your eyes are unable to provide adequate moisture, so they become inflamed. After our experience with infertility and Eastern medicine, my wife and I decided to apply the Eastern medicinal mindset to dry eye. We started treating dry eye as a symptom of inflammation in the body. The goal of our program is to decrease the inflammation in your body so you are able to provide this moisture naturally. To do that, we first establish a very simple eyelid routine to do both morning and night.
The excess or lack of bacteria in your eyes causes inflammation, which causes bad oil to come out. Your body makes hypochlorous acid to kill bacteria, so we have a hypochlorous acid that you spray on your eyelids. This spray then brings down the inflammation in your eye which causes better oil production, and healthier eyes.
A good eyelid routine like this is very important for your eye health. I always say, “Think of your eyelids like you do your teeth.” Dentists have taught us to brush and floss, and if we don’t then we get a cavity. Your eyelids are the same way because if you don’t take care of them you can lose those oil-producing glands. We formulated our product Heyedrate, a leave-on lid & lash cleanser to promote healthy eyelid health.
About Dr. Travis Zigler:
Dr. Travis Zigler is the founder of Eye Love, whose mission is to heal 1,000,000 dry eye sufferers naturally by 2030. Dr. Travis and his wife, Dr. Jenna Zigler, use the profits from Eye Love to fund free clinics in Jamaica, Latin America, and the US through their charity, the Eye Love Cares Foundation.